One of the most popular attractions along the Museum Campus in Chicago Illinois is the Shedd Aquarium. I had not visited the aquatic attraction since high school, and I thought that it would be an affordable and enjoyable weekend activity. After arriving and assessing the situation, the choice to stay was a huge mistake. If I had known how crowded and how expensive the Shedd Aquarium would be on the first Saturday in August, I would have insisted on doing something else.
Weekend Lines and Massive Crowds
If you are wondering how long it will take to get into the Shedd Aquarium on the weekend, be prepared to stand in line with crowds of people for hours on end. I had no idea that the line to get in would extend way beyond the steps of the building to a concrete courtyard hundreds of yards away. Crowds of people were waiting in that line. If we had chosen to stay, it would have taken hours to get into the building. It was hot out, and we were not willing to spend hours of our weekend in a long and uncomfortable line with crowds of people.
Those that buy express passes to the Shedd Aquarium can enter through another door and just about go right in, but be prepared to pay an exorbitant amount of money when making that choice. I paid approximately $135 for two adults and one child, and we still had to wait 20 minutes in a hot corridor. The price of the tickets included all of the shows and special exhibits, but it was still very expensive considering how much those activities cost when purchased separately.
I bought the express passes in an attempt to improve our weekend experience, but they were far from worth it. By the time I had purchased a $22 parking ticket in the north garage and a small set of family photos for $30 in the Shedd Aquarium, I had put out $179.00. That did not include gas or the overpriced drinks and snacks. Our weekend trip to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago IL cost me a whopping $275.00! My boyfriend paid for our lunch and a stuffed walrus for my daughter. That added another $33 to the total, and I did not want to spend another dime. More importantly, paying extra did not eliminate the crowds or improve our experience.
Massive Weekend Crowds Make it Almost Impossible to See the Displays
If you are not bothered by long lines and crowds of people, by all means, visit the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago Illinois on the weekend. You will encounter countless strollers that are used as battering rams by rude people with screaming babies and young children. Also, be prepared to be hit by backpacks again and again. Many people wear backpacks filled with mystery items when visiting the Shedd Aquarium, and they do not care who or what they hit. I was hit by several protruding backpacks throughout the day as people thoughtlessly barged their way through the dimly lit halls and rooms.
It was difficult to see most of the displays because of the crowds, but now and then we were lucky enough to find a tank with an opening. Crowds of visitors seemed to linger in front of the jelly fish and seahorses the longest, and just about everyone had to take photo after photo. It felt more like a fight to survive at the Shedd Aquarium than a pleasure trip.
Although the aquatic and plant life was absolutely amazing, I will never go back to the Shedd Aquarium on the weekend. I was very disappointed by the crowds and the exorbitant cost of it all. It was reminiscent of a February trip to Disney World when my ex husband unknowingly booked a trip when kids from the East Coast were on break. All that was missing at the Shedd Aquarium was the Disney characters and the rides. The crowds were as massive and as rude as ever.
Do your family a favor and take a day off from work during the week to visit the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago Illinois. Pull the kids out of school for an educational experience. Unless you do not mind paying upwards of $35 a person, waiting in long lines and struggling to see the displays, visit the Shedd Aquarium on a week day instead of on the weekend. I would love to see it again someday, but without having to stand several feet back from the tanks because of crowds, and without having to spend far more money than the overall experience was worth.
Source: Personal Experience